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Don't forget a channel in your multi-channel marketing plan

Multi-channel marketing: personalize a "brick, flip and click" strategy
Multi-channel marketing: personalize a "brick, flip and click" strategy
Creative Commons: Flickr DanielBroche

Multi-channel marketing is the coordination of online, print, email, social media and image marketing. The primary strategy of multi-channel marketing is to employ a variety of marketing channels to reach a variety of customers. A channel can be a retail store, a print catalog or an online store. Multi-channel marketing is sometimes referred to as “brick, flip and click” marketing.

For an Internet business, the primary marketing channel is its Web site. Supporting channels should be selected to bolster and enhance online marketing efforts. The objective of marketing is to make your product or service highly accessible to both customers and potential customers.

It is important to be aware of how people find your internet business and how they prefer to make a purchase or engage your services. Institute methods to collect this data. How do your customers learn about your business, how do they request information and at what point they convert from being a “lead” to a “client?”

Focus your marketing energy on the channel that is most productive for your type of business. Don’t exclude other channels – the magic of marketing is in diversity – but do tailor your efforts and investment to what works for your business. Understand the concept of “return on investment” which is the conversion of leads to actual sales less your marketing cost. For example, if you sell 60 widgets for a total of $600 with a promotional email that cost you $200 in staff hours (design, implementation), your return on investment, or ROI, is $400 or 2X.

Try marketing your widgets through another channel, analyze your ROI and tailor your efforts to capitalize upon the most profitable channel. The average ROI of each of your business’ marketing efforts is the average of the ROI through each channel that you utilize.

Most successful Internet retail and service business owners will attest to the importance of maintaining a diversified marketing effort, even if the primary focus of your business is web-based. Your online store may dominate your sales, but other channels will ensure that you capture potential customers that may not visit your website. Being diversified will keep your company positioned to adjust to market trends. Twitter, for example, may not produce direct sales for your company now, but if, in six months or a year, consumers gravitate to your Twitter account for product updates and service information, you will have a presence and the ability to respond with a shift in your marketing efforts.

Some studies indicate that customers of businesses with a multi-channel marketing campaign spend up to 30% more than when customers are only targeted through a single marketing channel. The more places people see your company name, and the more often they hear about your product, the more inclined they will be to have good feelings about it, and to make a purchase. So, although one channel may dominate your marketing campaign with an excellent ROI, it is important to maintain a multi-channel approach.

The sometimes elusive balance between channels is integral to a seamless and unified marketing effort. Internet businesses should integrate their efforts, so that each channel supports and enhances the other marketing channels. For example, the web site should promote your company’s social media presence – Facebook and Twitter – and offer an opt-in signup for your email newsletter as well as your print catalog. Facebook and Twitter should send fans back to the Web site. Email newsletter signup can be from the front page of your Website, and also from your Facebook fan page. Email newsletters should always have the address of your physical office, if you have one, and might include a savings offer for people who stop in with a copy of the newsletter - or who show you the newsletter on their mobile phone screen.

The trick is in allowing potential customers to tell you how they would like to communicate, and do business with, your company.



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